Environmental strategy

Erste Group’s environmental strategy is built on four pillars:

  • implementation of environmental management systems
  • integration of ecological criteria into banking products and services
  • implementation of a supply chain management system for all products and services needed to run the banking business
  • co-operation with environmental NGOs

Environmental footprint

*) The 2019 NFI report captured environmental data of Austrian savings banks with more than 150 employees (2018: >300). The inclusion of 8 additional Austrian savings banks resulted in the following total increases in the environmental data: energy consumption +12,163 MWh, electricity consumption +5,628 MWh, heating/cooling energy consumption +6,307 MWh, copy paper consumption +56 t (thereof 35.5 t of recycled paper), CO2e emissions +1,500 t).

Environmental targets

As a bank, Erste Group is not using a lot of different natural resources. The main resources Erste Group consumes are: electric energy, energy for heating and warm water, fuel for business cars and paper (especially copy paper). Consumption of water and production of waste is not relevant and will therefore not be reported at all. To be able to manage the consumption of natural resources effectively, it is necessary to have a proper system in place on how to measure the consumption.

Based on the data for 2018, new relative rather than absolute reduction targets for the following areas were set for 2019 until 2021: electric and heating energy consumption per square meter of office floor space (kWh/m2) or CO2e-emissions per employee, consumption of copy paper per employee (kg/FTE), and the share of hybrid or electric business cars.

Environmental targets for 2021

Implementation of environmental management systems

While the implementation of environmental management systems has been postponed at the Holding and Erste Bank Österreich, ISO 14001 and/or ISO 50001 certifications have been completed in Croatia, Slovakia and Hungary. Of the Austrian savings banks, Steiermärkische Sparkasse has been ISO 14001 certified and Allgemeine Sparkasse Oberösterreich ISO 50001 certified. Dornbirner Sparkasse has been conducting ÖKOPROFIT certification on an annual basis since 2012.

It is planned that the main local banking subsidiaries will implement a certified energy management system in the years ahead. Use of just one energy management system (ISO 50001) is due to the fact that financial service providers do not consume any other resources apart from energy and paper, and their use of water or waste disposal is of no relevance.

Measures to reduce office paper consumption

To minimise its environmental impact, Erste Group preferably buys recycled copy paper and continuously runs paper-saving initiatives in its banking operations.

The trend towards digitalisation helps to reduce paper consumption. On the online platform George, customers may choose to waive printouts of account statements as Erste Group's mobile banking offers an easy-to-use archive of all account transactions.

Current efforts aim at processing all standard banking transactions electronically wherever possible, which will accelerate back office procedures and make customer service more efficient. This improves not only the customer experience but also reduces paper consumption.

Ecological sourcing of products and services

Erste Group Procurement (EGP) continued its efforts to include environmental criteria in its purchasing activities. Since 2014, the “Ethical and Environmental Code of Conduct for Suppliers of Goods and Services” of EGP has been applied across the group. Supplier evaluation criteria include besides economic criteria also sustainability and environmental aspects. In addition, EGP staff must pass the online test of the “Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS)” based in England.

Bank products with ecological benefits

Erste Group continuously develops products and services for its customers that incorporate sustainability criteria, including in-vestment products and financing. Especially Erste’s Asset Management company contributes to this targets and is market leader with sustainable investment funds. 

More information

Other environmental initiatives

Across the group, existing lighting systems have been replaced with LED systems wherever this made sense from an economical and technical point of view. At Erste Campus, water from large rainwater cisterns has been used for watering green spaces and flushing toilets since 2018.

In July 2019, the cooperation between the start-up Hut & Stiel and sOM started at Erste Campus. In the first five months of the collaboration, 8.7 t of coffee grounds from break rooms were collect-ed for usage in their regional mushroom production. This translates to an annual reduction of residual waste of more than 20 t.

In sponsoring, strategies were developed for avoiding plastics in promotional materials and environmentally friendly alternatives were adopted in 2019.

Another element of Erste Group’s environmental strategy is co-operation with environmental NGOs. They offer access to their local and international know-how and provide valuable assistance to Erste Group in its efforts to become an even more environmentally sustainable company. A good example in this regard is the close co-operation between Erste Asset Management and WWF on ecologically highly sustainable investment funds. By gaining 30% in value, the ERSTE WWF Stock Environment Fund underlined that sustainability and financial performance can be combined.